Durban, South Africa: some years have passed since the “glory days” of the Durban alternative music scene. However, every city has its lulls and booms. A lot of the booms depend entirely on the work being put in by members of the community; starting from ground up.
With the great example set in Bloemfontein spanning five recent years, operatives in Durban hope to bring about a similar positive turn in this city. Free State Metal, a Bloemfontein-based organization of volunteers, recently hosted its fifth installation of the successful Metal Circuit series. Can Durban see a similar revitalization? We believe it can.
Pit at the Polo
Every good dish starts with a winning recipe. This weekend in Durban will be putting one such dish to the test with Pit at the Polo. For Pit at the Polo -the first by that name- a number of people have joined forces which gives us great confidence; because they are no strangers to the scene. Jamie Visagie operated The Red Door, a venue beloved to the scene, in Pietermaritzburg for many years; and was active as DJ, sound engineer and other functions for years more besides. Add to this great foundation one Matthew Howes and you’re off the something worth your attention.
“After the Red Door closed -and more than a decade- Jamie and I remained good friends and would often reminisce over the good gigs and parties we did together over the years. Long story short, we decided to start ‘Red Door Productions’ and host events that we hope will bring back that excitement of the old days.” ~ Matthew Howes
Matthew’s credentials are also many. Whilst he is likely best known as a veteran live sound engineer, Matthew is a musician and a big fan also. In more recent years, he’s stepped up to play an increasing role in affairs of national interest; such as the Wacken Metal Battle and South African Metal Music Awards.
How would Durban like a bi-annual music festival?
Matthew states his driving force as being a passion for the scene. Which is hard to deny, seeing his active involvement across the board; even to the point of being a regular face attending shows in other cities. With his and Jamie’s collective experience combined, they’re hoping to establish a live event regime in Durban which loosely mirrors what we’ve accomplished in Cape Town. At this time, Matthew and Jamie are fronting all of the resources required to get the momentum required.
“We are not aiming make anything out of this financially. The goal is to light a fire in the KZN metal scene and generate enough interest for this to become a bi-annual event, where bands beg us to play. For future gigs we can better gauge higher budgets to make the next shows even bigger and better. Who knows, maybe KZN’s very own answer to SummerFest and WinterFest.” ~ Matthew Howes
Matthew further describes the Durban scene as being “okay”, but that it could use a little extra spark. A shortage of viable venues seems to be the greatest challenge. Whilst many Durbanites still loyally support The Winston, many agree that an occasional change of scenery could give the scene the refresh it needs from time to time. Matthew tells us of previous times where this was attempted to some fair success in terms of numbers; although the establishments where shows were hosted seemed a little nonplussed at how to proceed with the metal crowd.
“KZN metal craves something different, but done right and with effort. Not cheaply and for the sake of something new. This was clear with the first Tina’s gig I was involved in about three years ago. Hundreds of people came to the show, even in the pouring rain.” ~ Matthew Howes
Pit at the Polo: event details
Well, that’s enough background. What is Pit at the Polo actually offering lovers of heavy metal?
The show takes place this coming weekend, Saturday 24 August, at the Shongweni Polo Club in Hillcrest. Pit at the Polo will be in the large conference hall, overlooking the grounds. Doors open from 5pm until late, with a cover charge of only R50. The line-up consists of five superb metal bands from Durban and Johannesburg.
Johannesburg’s Riddlebreak continues to advance nationally, with a SAMMA win and competing at Wacken Metal Battle SA finals adding to it’s list of accomplishments. Human Nebula, also from Johannesburg (and also sharing a member with Riddlebreak) is fresh in carving a legacy for itself. Most recently, the band also climbed the ranks to join as contestant at the Wacken Metal Battle SA national finals.
Local legends Become The Watcher and the newer Imperious Vision are joined by a completely fresh act, Last of The Daggers. The latter also sports members from Codes and Scrapyard Bones.
Additionally, Pit at the Polo offers a large stage and rig setup, with plenty of parking, eats and drinks.
“This event is purely for the scene. It is a ‘For us; By us’ mentality. Without trying to sound lame: this is our passion! We love live music, we love metal, and -despite the politics from time to time- we love the people in our scene.” ~ Matthew Howes
Join the facebook event page for full details and updates.